Arrangements fall short due to rush of unregistered pilgrims

Two lakh pilgrims had registered themselves, many others posed as tourists

Srinagar: A record number of about 1.60 lakh devotees paid their obeisance at the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in the first five days of the yatra, official sources said.

This is for the first time that such a large number of devotees visited the shrine in first five days. An average 32,000 devotees are visiting the cave shrine from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal daily.

The pilgrims visited the cave shrine and had ‘darshan’ of the naturally formed ice-Shivling. Although only two lakh pilgrims had registered themselves, many others posed as tourists to reach the base camps of Nunwan on the traditional 46-km Pahalgam route. This happened despite clear cut instructions at the two base camps to not allow any unregistered pilgrims in, officials said.

The heavy rush of pilgrims has prompted the authorities to review security arrangements for the two-month yatra. It has made all the arrangements fall short of their demand. Heavy influx of pilgrims at Nunwan and Baltal had forced the authorities to start the yatra a day ahead of the official date.

On Sunday morning, around 13,000 pilgrims left for the ‘darshan’ from the twin base camps. While over 9,000 preferred the Baltal route, rest started their difficult journey from Nunwan, the sources said.

The yatra was stopped at Nunwan on Friday deliberately to ease the pressure at the holy cave where several thousand pilgrims are regularly camping. Many of them were also ignoring all official directives to adhere to timings of return. -- PTI